In Latvia, almost everyone has been to the sea coast, and those who visit it regularly may have noticed that there are usually birds there as well. Similar to people who sunbathe, walk, play sports, fish or work on the seashore, birds also engage in various activities there.

In winter, you can meet wintering birds, for whom this place is suitable for spending the winter. During wintering, birds are engaged in foraging and eating. Even though the coast seems empty in winter, you can still see mallards near the shore, a little further, great crested grebes are clearly swimming one by one, which sometimes dive under the water. Along the edge of the dunes, a bunch of snow buntings flies very fast. The wintering long-tailed ducks stay at a safe distance from the shore and the great mergansers fly in straight rows from one feeding place to another.

Spring and autumn are the time of bird migration, so you can meet a much greater variety of species on the coast than in other periods of the year. When the weather is not favorable for flying, migratory birds stay on the seashore to feed and rest.

In the summer, when there are the most people on the beach, there are apparently few birds, but those who are there have come to fulfill their most important purpose - nesting, so they are invisible. They camouflage to protect themselves and the nest.

People's activities at the beach range from swimming and sunbathing in the summer to bird watching in January. In between these activities there are many others, including illegal movement on the coast with mechanized vehicles.

In order to drive a vehicle in seashore, you need to get a permit, and in most cases such permits are issued for transporting fishing gear to the water, but often the road "to the water" along the beach can be several kilometers long. Driving along the beach has a negative effect on the birds nesting there and disturbs the migratory birds in the resting places by forcing them to take off and move to another place, interrupting their feeding. This causes stress and unnecessary energy expenditure for the birds, increasing the chance of unsuccessful migration.

When conducting bird surveys on the coast of Latvia, there is almost no beach area without traces left by vehicles at any time of the year, even in places where driving is made difficult by various obstacles, such as large boulders or mouths of small rivers. Especially in such places, it is clear that the purpose of using vehicles is also recreational and not only for work purposes.

The movement of people on the beach on foot has the least effect on the birds, since the walking usually takes place along the strip of wet sand, it does not disturb the nesting birds whose territories are closer to the dunes. Flocks of migrating birds sometimes do not even take off, but if they do, they fly to another feeding place in a short time. The impact of a walk is much harsher if a person has a dog with him without a leash. Dogs' interest in what is happening around them is high enough to check what is happening in the dry sand as well. Without the dog's owner noticing, they destroy nests and also tend to hit flocks of migrating birds. The negative impact of dogs has been recognized in several studies, dog walks on the beach should only be allowed if the dog is on a leash.

Although walking on the wet sand area of the beach is considered to have little impact, if this disturbance is constant, it also affects the nesting of birds. This year, three river mouths where there have been colonies of nesting terns were closed for the nesting season. Although the restrictions were violated, most people followed them. In many parts of the world, the practice of delimiting coastal zones - share the shore, is common and significantly improves nesting success of birds. For birds, the coast is a home, a feeding table, a critical support point during travel, people who come to the coast to rest or get satisfaction from some activity should respect the interests of the indigenous people of the coast.

Practical advice on how to reduce the negative impact on birds while on the coast.

  • Dog, during the nesting season - always on a leash.
  • When you notice the bird's anxious behavior, you should assume that you are close to the nest, so you should move away from it. Spotting the nest is very difficult. Prolonged stay near the nest may result in its abandonment.
  • Obey the prohibition signs, they are not placed for no reason.
  • When walking along the beach, try not to get too close to the birds - it is as troublesome for them to take off and fly over as it is for a person to avoid the birds with a detour.
  • When traveling by water transport, avoid disturbing birds on the water by making a detour around spotted flocks.
  • Transport the fishing gear to the water by the shortest route.
  • Remember the concept of "share the coast".
  • Encourage your relatives, especially children, to follow these points as well.
  • Don't be shy to remind other beachgoers of these points.
  • Do not hesitate to report violations (driving on the beach or dunes with motorized transport, tents on the beach or dunes) to the police of the relevant municipality.